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Trinity and Harvard go Head-to-Head in Student Economic Review Debate

Posted on 11 February 2014

Debating teams from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University recently took part in the Student Economic Review (SER) debate chaired by Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity College Dublin.

Debating the motion, that “this house believes the US education system has failed its citizens”, the Trinity team narrowly defeated their Harvard rivals in the overall debate. Harvard’s Fanele Mashwama won the Best Speaker Gold Medal. The debate, which was hosted by the Philosophical Society, featured a distinguished panel of judges which included Laurence D’Arcy, Director of Crimson Tide Plc; Michael Keating, Deputy CEO of Bord Iascaigh Mhara; Professor Frances Ruane, Director of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI); and Vinay Nair, Head of International Business Development at Acumen and former SER debates manager.

During the debate the Trinity side, which consisted of Ruth Keating, a senior sophister law student, William Dunne, a Junior sophister PPES student, and Sarah Mortell, a senior freshman BESS student, argued that the American system fails its citizens fundamentally by failing to address and even by exacerbating entrenched social inequalities and is found lacking on the high rhetorical standard that America sets for itself.

A formidable outfit from Harvard University in Dylan Hardenbergh, a sophomore linguistics and neurobiology student, Nathaniel Donahue a junior economic history student, and Fanele Mashwama a freshman philosophy student maintained however that the American education system, in virtue of its decentralisation, can boast a dynamism and innovative character that other systems lack. The system, they argued, succeeds in equipping its students with the entrepreneurial and critical thinking skills that they will need to get ahead in the real world.

The work of the SER, now in its 28th year, is presided over by Professor of Economics and President of the SER, John O’Hagan. Each year the SER organise two debates in conjunction with the college's Philosophical or Historical Society, played always to a packed GMB debating chamber. The first, run in the Michaelmas Term sees a Trinity team compete against either Oxford or Cambridge Universities, while the second, held in Hilary Term, alternates between Harvard and Yale Universities. The debates, along with the Student Economic Review, an undergraduate journal published annually by the students, are supported by four donors, all former Trinity graduates.

Find out more on the recently revamped SER website which includes details regarding sponsors, reflections from past SER Committee Members and copies of previous SER publications from over the last 27 years.